Illustrations in 2021
Websites advertising digital products often use illustrated graphics in conjunction with headings, descriptive text, listings, and quotes. Modern product illustrations have a colorful, flat and minimalist style that dynamically wraps around textual content and uses human characters to convey the functional components to the respective target group more emotionally and thus more personalized.
Technology companies like Google or Slack use an illustration style that humanly conveys the connection between user and digital application. Mat Helme, a product designer from Google, explains that this type of illustration should be immediately understandable - ideally without having to read the accompanying text. This is exactly where the challenge lies: a picture should replace a thousand words, but still invite you to continue reading product information.
Google Firebase - development platform for mobile applications
Basically, Alice Lee started this trend towards human-illustrated characters in the use of digital products in 2017 with the redesign of Slack. On her website she describes the development of a library of illustrations which, like components, are used in a variety of ways and express warm emotions.
"Given the uniqueness of Slack's brand, I wanted to create an illustration voice that was totally unexpected at the time, and custom to their brand needs: warm, friendly, polished, and at times quirky."
This component-based development can be followed on stock image provider platforms such as Adobe Stock. A search query for illustrations and people results in a large number of libraries with people who are vividly depicted in diverse situations or components. Companies usually only need to choose a certain style of illustration that conveys the values of their offers. Experienced designers can then customize and expand the library they have purchased.
Adobe Stock search results
In the illustration style, it is noticeable that the coloring is bright and that brilliant signal colors are often used. The characters are mostly flat, more organic and rounded in active situations, which gives the picture themes warmth and dynamism. The email marketing provider Mailchimp uses an illustration style with black curved lines that are sometimes thicker and sometimes thinner, depending on the brushstroke. A bright and bright color is used in the background to create a strong and lively contrast.
The customer support provider Intercom uses a similar style, black lines with eccentric background colors.
Intercom example 2021
Modern technology companies have confidence in themselves and communicate their values and concerns to their target group confidently and lively. Most of the tech companies' redesigns took place between 2015 and 2019. This human illustration style has now proven to be sustainable, because it is still used in large companies and is constantly being developed.
It is important, however, that the balance between image and text is important. Too much text tires the visitor to a website, reading behavior on digital media is more like a scanning process in which key terms are noticed and connections are made with the help of images. The lively and sometimes playful characters of the technology companies provide the necessary contrast so that the website visitor can occupy himself with the advantages of the product range for as long as possible.
Laura Dumitru, Motion Designer at Google, describes the hierarchy of image and text: "It's a bit of a competition sometimes, between image and copy." She and her team learned that animations prevent visitors from reading the text.
However, illustrators do not have to do without loving details. They can be elementary components of an illustration if they are placed discreetly and do not distract the user too much in their search for information.
Benefits of illustrated product graphics
They help to identify yourself with a product or service or to make components or functions more understandable.
The characters work in recognition even without a company logo or other components of the corporate identity.
Libraries define the illustrative language, which makes it easily reproducible and can be further developed independently of specific designers. Product graphics can help shape the brand image in the long term.
The trend towards flat and human characters depicted in a minimalist way in actions will continue, precisely because of their diversity and the many visual aspects that characterize us humans. The technology companies express that behind the digital applications there are also people who are actively working to improve everyday life for users.